Transport Minister & Winter Tyres: “A Complete Lack of Understanding”
While we appreciate tyres getting a mention in the House of Commons yesterday, it is regrettable that our Secretary of State for Transport hadn’t studied up on the subject beforehand. During a speech intended to reassure that last winter’s ‘big freeze’ mayhem would not be repeated this year, no less a person than the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP questioned their suitability for the UK and told parliament that “winter tyres wear out very quickly on normal road surfaces” – a feature that would be a major disadvantage for the cold weather product, were it true.
Tyre safety advocates have been quick to refute Hammond’s comments. A statement released by TyreSafe expresses the organisation’s “disbelief and concern over the Government’s lack of understanding” regarding the added safety benefits of winter tyres. “Despite many independent tests proving that winter weather tyres are the safest option for drivers across the entire winter period, Mr. Hammond incorrectly claimed they were not appropriate for UK situations,” TyreSafe noted.
“Mr Hammond’s comments show a complete lack of understanding about modern winter tyres which are the ideal solution to the type of weather we are currently experiencing,” explained Stuart Jackson, chairman, TyreSafe. “Studless winter tyres are designed to provide much better grip over the entire winter period, not just for when people are driving for long periods on compacted snow as he implied. They do not damage road surfaces in any way and are wholly appropriate for the UK situation.”
Winter tyres can in fact be used all year round but their performance is notably better when temperatures fall below seven degrees Celsius. In these conditions, ‘standard’ tyres begin to harden and lose their ability to grip the road surface properly. TyreSafe shares that tests conducted by the British Tyre Manufacturers Association found that a car braking at 60mph on a wet road at five degrees Celsius stopped five metres shorter, equivalent to more than one car length, when fitted with winter tyres. On ice and snow covered roads the difference was even more remarkable. The car equipped with winter tyres stopped 11 metres sooner on ice and eight metres sooner on snow, from just 20mph.
As for tyre wear, TyreSafe has responded to Mr. Hammond’s remarks by pointing out that in winter conditions winter tyres do not wear any more quickly than conventional tyres, and they are also manufactured with a deeper tread to improve performance.
To help drivers further understand the benefits of winter weather tyres, TyreSafe has added a new dedicated section to its tyresafe.org website along with an updated information leaflet which can be downloaded free of charge. Mr. Hammond and other motorists are more than welcome to pay the site a visit.